It is becoming easier for genealogists to find BDMs in the Australian states with free online access to an increasing number of new and expanding websites. Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia have official free searchable online indexes while Victoria has a pay-to-view site. South Australia and Tasmania have reasonable alternative websites in lieu of official online government facilities.
Queensland BDM certificates
Queensland is the most recent state to offer a free online search facility. You can now search the Queensland Historical Index for births, deaths and marriages that occurred in that state from 1829 to 1914. You will not find the exact date of an event or the place but the year and names are useful starting points. For births that were registered more than 100 years ago, marriages registered more than 80 years ago, and deaths registered more than 50 years ago no identification is required to apply. Print out the application form, fill in the details and send it by mail with the fee to the registry address provided.
New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
Here you can search for Births 1778-1906, Deaths 1788-1976 and Marriages 1788-1956. Bear in mind that as Australia was founded in 1788 as the Colony of New South Wales the earliest records for other states, prior to their separation, can be found here.
South Australian Family History
This is a very well constructed dynamic site put together from composite sources by database specialists. It is a site which is easily navigated and has clear instructions. There are searchable databases for Passenger Lists of shipping arrivals in SA 1803-1850, Marriages in SA 1836-1852, Gazetted Deaths in SA 1845-1941 and Deaths of WW1 servicemen, among others. There is no database of births but details of what may be found on SA certificates is provided.
The South Australian Cemeteries section has deaths and burials information compiled from a variety of sources including transcriptions contributed by volunteers. You can do a number of searches of various databases and one for the many hundreds of online South Australian council cemeteries.
You can also read historical information such as a 19th Century South Australian History Timeline and a very good article on the accuracy of family history sources. Barry Leadbeater concludes with this advice. To assemble an accurate family history, one must:
* obtain each piece of information from as many independent sources as possible,
* include primary sources whenever possible,
* properly assess the accuracy of each source of information, and
* resolve the inconsistencies giving more weight to the sources assessed as more accurate.
These three websites are not new but there is a considerable increase in the extent of information available online.
Western Australia Pioneers Index
The ranges of years available for free online searching are:
Reverse WA Marriage Lookups 1905-1942
This is a project of the Perth Dead Persons' Society which has focused on using computers for family history since it began in the early 1990s. Now their volunteers are progressively making more data available online for genealogists everywhere.
Metropolitan Cemeteries Board - Perth WA
The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board maintains records for all interments, cremations and memorials for cemeteries at Karrakatta (from 1899), Pinnaroo (1978), Midland (1986), Guildford (late 1880s), and Fremantle (1898).
Archives Office of Tasmania Online Indexes
One of the eight searchable name indexes here is Departures - people leaving Tasmanian ports 1817-1867.
Also on this site is The Colonial Tasmania Family Links database which is not a primary source but it is based on records of births, deaths and marriages held in the Archives Office. This database contains approximately 500 000 entries, many of which are grouped into families by genealogists associated with the former National Heritage Foundation in the late 1990s. Although some of information is not necessarily verified by the Archives Office, in the absence of an official online index to BDMs it is the next best thing.
On the Ballarat & District Genealogical Society website at www.ballaratgenealogy.org.au you will find many more links to explore under the headings for each Australian state.
Jennifer Burrell: firstname.lastname@example.org